After Detroit’s 20-6 loss at San Francisco, here are three (mostly) indisputable facts I feel relatively sure about:
I don’t sense a lot of patience from Lions coach Jim Schwartz when it comes to quarterback Drew Stanton. Schwartz didn’t let Stanton finish his first NFL start after a predictable string of turnovers and ineffective play. “He's a third-year player, “ Schwartz said. “They don't handicap games and they don't start you with a touchdown or 10 points because somebody's starting their first NFL game.” Schwartz said he didn’t know if Stanton would get another start in the season finale against Chicago. But none of Schwartz’s options seem appealing. The Lions are 0-8 in games Daunte Culpepper has started over the past two seasons. Don’t forget the Lions signed veteran Patrick Ramsey on Saturday.
We might have gotten a glimpse at the future of the Lions’ middle linebacker position Sunday. With veteran Larry Foote injured and his return next season uncertain, rookie DeAndre Levy got his first start at the position the Lions originally drafted him to play. Levy finished with a team-high eight tackles, but most reviews agreed his performance was mixed. I think it’s pretty clear Levy will have a starting spot at some position next season. Will it be at middle linebacker? That probably depends on the Lions’ 2010 draft. As of now, they’re likely to pick No. 2 overall.
I appreciate Schwartz’s honesty after an unsuccessful challenge to Vernon Davis’ 2-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter. In essence, Schwartz said, it was a low-percentage effort but worth the try. “Here’s the deal,” Schwartz said. “It was a touchdown. It was close. So we’re going to challenge and see where it is. We didn’t have a definitive answer in the box before I threw the flag, but anytime you have a touchdown or you have a turnover or things like that and it's close, you need to challenge. If it’s close and you're gaining five yards, maybe you don't take the challenge. That was a play that we needed to stop right there, particularly the way we were rushing field goals. They were having a difficult time kicking field goals. I thought we could have forced them to kick a field goal right there. That could have been a big swing, but it didn't happen.”
And here is one question I’m still asking:
Why are the Lions rotating offensive linemen so frequently? I understand they are trying to get their best five players on the field, but it’s no secret that continuity is a big part of offensive line play. Left guard, right guard and right tackle have been a revolving door lately. Schwartz acknowledged the importance of continuity, but reading between the lines, it sounds like he is just searching for a combination that works. As we’ve discussed many times, the line should be a primary focus of the Lions’ offseason.